The reporting on how the President decided he’d meet with Kim Jong Un, as well as how he decided to implement tariffs, shows that the US Interagency planning and decision making process has completely broken down.
Nothing to see here, just a glimpse at how U.S. foreign policy is being managed by the White House. https://t.co/4c1EA0CPSp pic.twitter.com/DKm6w2q2vM
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) March 9, 2018
Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair provides additional details:
With the departures of Hope Hicks and Gary Cohn, the Trump presidency is entering a new phase—one in which Trump is feeling liberated to act on his impulses. “Trump is in command. He’s been in the job more than a year now. He knows how the levers of power work. He doesn’t give a fuck,” the Republican said. Trump’s decision to circumvent the policy process and impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum reflects his emboldened desire to follow his impulses and defy his advisers. “It was like a fuck-you to Kelly,” a Trump friend said. “Trump is red-hot about Kelly trying to control him.”
Decision making by fit of pique… Wonderful!
The US Interagency process was established to provide all the relevant agencies, departments, bureaus, and offices to provide inputs for planning and decision making. To facilitate the flow of information. And to make it easier for the President to make decisions. From the US Air Force’s description of the Interagency Process:
The interagency is not a formal structure but rather the established process for coordinating executive branch decision making when issues involve multiple agencies of the government. Each major issue area has different sets of actors and different sets of formal and informal guidelines that govern interagency activities.
The most senior interagency organization is the National Security Council (NSC) and it includes four statutory members: the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of Central Intelligence serve as advisors to the Council. In practice, each administration has chosen to include additional cabinet-level officials to participate in NSC deliberations in response to the President’s expressed need for policy advice on national security affairs. Under The National Security Act of 1947, the National Security Council administers the interagency process for national security matters. It emphasizes the need for integration of agency policy to improve overall effectiveness of national security decision-making: The function of the Council shall be to advise the President with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to the national security so as to enable the military services and the other departments and agencies of the Government to cooperate more effectively in matters involving the national security. Reporting to the Council is a number of subordinate committees. Although each administration adjusts these structures as it sees fit, the structure described below has been fairly consistent through a number of administrations and will likely be similar to any structure put in place in the future.
The structure looks something like this, which is from RDML Roberti’s 2011 briefing on the Interagency process:
As the Air Force’s instructional manual explains, the benefits of the process are:
While integrated pol-mil planning does not guarantee success in a complex contingency operation, it does increase the likelihood of success by ensuring that:
- various U.S. agencies plan operations using the same purpose, mission and objectives
- all aspects of the operation are coordinated at the policy level
- key issues and requirements are identified and addressed early on in the planning process
- interagency planning process clearly assigns responsibility for distinct elements of an operation to specific senior administration officials
- critical decisions about priorities and allocation of resources are made early on
One of the first things that LTG McMaster fixed when becoming National Security Advisor was the Interagency process that his predecessor had never really bothered with. Gen Kelly established a process to ensure the information flow to the President to weed out unnecessary and inaccurate information, as well as limiting access to the President to prevent “drive bys”. That the Interagency process has not just broken down, but that the President purposefully broke because he is frustrated with the very real, very necessary, and very important processes and restrictions that come with the office of the president and angry with the professionals that established them for him and his administration and are working to maintain them for his own good is a very, very bad development. No good can come from this. No good at all.
We are truly off the looking glass and through the map!
You could have striken “Interagency Process” from the title.
It’s almost as if…institutions have failed.
Adam L Silverman
I’m off to the gym. I’ll check back in in a couple of hours.
Adam L Silverman
@Corner Stone: The Interagency isn’t really an institution. Its a process.
Kim will roll that fat sack of lard named tRump like a Crisco can going down the steps.
How much longer until we see Harry Potter on the WH lawn point his wand at the Oval Office and yell, “EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!”
In a country with two sane political parties, the 25th Amendment would be in play by now. Too bad the GOP is round the bend and running fast.
@Adam L Silverman: Don’t sidestep it. Institutions enact process.
Generals didn’t save us. They couldn’t have even if they all had been noble. The problem is the man at the top.
@Cermet: I thought you were all, “Rah, rah! After Trump, Pax Americana wrt NK.”
He’s displaying the courage he told us he had after the school shooting. He’s not waiting, he’s going in alone and unarmed, to save the world from the evil KJU with nothing but his big brain and his tiny orange hands. He’s a gotdam American hero!
So the Republicans are the dog who caught the car, gnawed through all the tires, and had it towed to the crusher.
I personally never want to hear anything from Susan Rice ever again.
We’ve given the car keys to a drunk toddler.
@Mary G: More like a 18 wheeler, than a car. And no he is not a child. He is an inept and unqualified 70 year old man.
@Corner Stone: What is she saying?
This seems to be the way Trump wants it, and clearly his supporters approve. They and Trump are One Mind. Government is either deep state traitors, or just layers of lazy gummit workers and bureaucrats. The solution is obviously to run the gummit like a business, lean and mean, with the chief executive barking out orders, and loyal functionaries rushing to obey. Experts and staff don’t matter. Trump don’t know process.
Of course, reality does not necessarily work this way. But too bad. The GOP leadership is largely spineless and cannot challenge or offer advice that is listened to.
So this appears to be the bottom line. Allies may seek to adjust. Enemies may look to take advantage. Anyone with half a brain is nervous and hopes that disastrous mistakes will not be made.
Otherwise, as Bette Davis said in “All About Eve,”
Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!
Major Major Major Major
@schrodingers_cat: who also doesn’t drink, which somehow makes it even worse.
@Major Major Major Major: He is drunk on power, not on alcohol.
@schrodingers_cat: She was on MSNBC’s air earlier and they keep replaying her soundbite(s). I just am passed wanting to hear anything from any one from the Obama administration.
I would differ slightly. The agencies, although limping, are probably capable of implementing the process. Whether the NSC can lead it is another question, although that is within the realm of imagination.
The problem is a president who has no idea of what his job entails and shoots his mouth off when he needs attention, which is constantly.
At some point, somebody is going to have to say, No, we have a schedule for the South Korean delegation, and we are sticking to it. (It might have been a good idea for RexT to have been in town, too.) The problem there is that anyone in that kind of position is a complete Trump toady.
@Major Major Major Major: I suspect he does not want to wander in his own mind. The loosened inhibitions of alcohol work well in a mild form, with well-adjusted people who relax and have no demons they must keep leashed.
That does not describe Trump.
@Corner Stone: I had to give up on cable when I moved to a small town which was not served by either cable companies or the big ISPs. Now I can get cable but haven’t felt the need to reconnect.
My head would have exploded if I had followed cable after 2016 elections. Thanks for watching and giving us updates.
I don’t see this ending well for anyone involved.
@Corner Stone: Why? In a situation like this one, I would think they have highly relevant knowledge for how it could be or should be done. I don’t actually watch cable news but I don’t see why Susan Rice would not be a reasonable go to person on an issue like this one.
As I recall, there wasn’t any consultation on Muslim Ban 1.0, and that worked out about as well as you’d expect as a consequence. So I guess that this is good news for lawyers in the Justice Department, as they won’t have to worry about continued employment given the number of unlawful actions they’ll have to defend.
IANAPH* but have we ever, in the almost 242 years since our founding as a nation, had a Chief Executive who routinely made decisions so whimsically and arbitrarily? (This is actually a rhetorical question; I know the answer, and it is “No, Siubhan. No, we never have.”
* (Presidential Historian)
This is exactly what Trump voters voted for. Not “Make America Great Again.” More like “Fuck Shit Up.”
You are unduly optimistic. We are not even close to a bottom yet.
But they won’t. Because its turtles and weasels all the way down the food chain now.
Prepare to be awed.
Why the fuck is Melania getting a pass on being humiliated but they hounded the FUCK out of Hillary?
He’s drunk on his assessment of his worth. And I don’t mean his monetary worth.
In ordinary crude terms he could be said to believe that his shit doesn’t stink. But in this case it’s far worse. He thinks his shit smells wonderful, that people will line up to purchase a whiff and build temples so they can enjoy it always.
Steve in the SFO
A presidential historian or an presidential historian?
@Barbara: I find her credibility to be lacking.
They are deliberately being bypassed, ignored, overridden. Trump seems to be proud of the fact that he doesn’t get bogged down in detail. And the heads of various agencies got the message, and often operate in the same heavy handed manner.
And despite anything resembling understanding or caution, Trump still relies, like a mafia don, on family, to do business. So, we had this recent revelation about The Eternally Useless Jared Kushner operating as special envoy to Mexico.
@Corner Stone: I don’t accept any general statement regarding Susan Rice being not credible without concrete details, given that Republicans hounded Susan Rice over Ben Ghazi, mostly because she is a black woman. The echo effect of that on her reputation is IMHO, simply capitulating to the Republican narrative.
Process? I don’t need no stinkin’ process!
Mike in NC
MSNBC today reported that Trump wants to get rid of both Kelly and McMaster soon in order to “hit reset”.
If you remade The Godfather starring the Trump family, it would have to be a black comedy.
@Brachiator: After a certain point, it will become impossible to fix things.
Institutional memory, reputation, traditions and ethical behavior take much longer to develop then to destroy.
If lying, stealing and cheating within the federal government is seen as acceptable behavior, the people who make up the machine will either flee or adapt to the new rules.
Whether we’re already past the point of no return is something increasingly harder to tell.
@TenguPhule: Because Melania is a gold digger and not a serious person, whereas, Clinton had aspirations to be taken seriously. Therefore, not only can Clinton’s claims to be a feminist and a serious woman in her own right be subject to ridicule, we can get to feel good humiliating an ambitious woman, showing her, and by extension all ambitious women, to be a personal failure when it comes to keeping her man happy. The prospect of grinding Clinton to dust over Monica Lewinsky probably brought more than a few Evangelicals to the point of orgasm.
I am, and the answer is no, we have not. EVER. the occasional rash decision, but not as a regular habit. I used to be able to say that Harding had the most corrupt administration. Now it’s trumps. Coolidge used to be the laziest president. Now it’s trump. Harding used to be the least intelligent. Now it’s trump.
OTOH, I just got tenure so I’m pretty happy!
@TenguPhule: cheer up, it only took 500 years after the Roman Empire collapsed for things to get back to normal
Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady)
@woodrowfan: Congratulations! Go out and celebrate.
@Van Buren: The Romans didn’t have nuclear and biological weapons.
@woodrowfan: WOOT!!! Definitely go out and celebrate!
@Barbara: That’s fine. I am not singling out Susan Rice. I don’t want to hear from Biden, or Samantha Power, or any of the Obama Bros or any of them.
I am almost enjoying this. From the beginning, Trump showed disdain for federal agencies, and refused to learn anything about being president. And yet pundits, political figures in both parties, the usual suspects among the Betlway observers, kept waiting on Trump to somehow, magically become more like a “traditional” president. You would even hear nonsense approval of Chief of Staff Kelly and others as being the “adults in the room” who would somehow bring some order to the madness of King Donald.
All of this was futile, and now observers are “shocked, shocked” that stupidity and disorder reigns in the White House. I keep wanting to say, “what the fuck did you expect?” Trump in the White House is exactly what you would expect if you took some random right wing blowhard spouting off in a bar and made him president.
And it ain’t just Trump. Theresa May, the prime minister of the UK, shows every sign of being just as clueless. The US and UK are being sustained by entropy and the last gasps of tradition. But every day Trump and his goons do something that presents competent people from doing their job.
Naw, I ain’t optimistic. I’m watching the errors accumulate. Where it stops, nobody knows.
ETA: I’d also like to kick the pseudo-progressives who hope for chaos and disorder, foolishly believing that this will usher in a golden age. Where are these dopes with solutions or their promised political activism?
@Brachiator: In the end we might get the creation of Pacifica by default. At some point the western states are going to get tired of the endless chaos in DC and start forming more and more interstate compacts. We then start making rules that ignore DC to the point where formal dissolution is the only logical course. And I don’t think this will be bad.
think you meant prevents.
And yes, in full agreement.
@Corner Stone: iokiyr satsq
Earlier today I heard that the evangelicals are giving him a pass, because he’s a good husband and father now. Thrice married and no recent affairs makes him a saint in their eyes.
Melania’s last name isn’t Clinton, yo.
See, I found the fatal flaw in this plan. Expecting logic from Republicans is like expecting fruit flies to do calculus.
@JPL: Don’t you Sasquatch me!
@Yutsano: As long as y’all have a decent refugee admittance/relocation policy…
That’s not it. It’s “He’s making it harder for those bitches to get an abortion, FUCK YEAH!”
The evangelical movement is long overdue for a fixing. In the biological sense.
@Corner Stone: I think she fully deserves to be asked if $130,000 is a sufficient wage for fucking Donald Trump.
If the Republican Party and its members/supporters were sane, Dolt45 would never have been nominated.
This meeting was walked back by Sarah hours ago-“concrete actions” need to be seen and all. There had to be a moment when Trump was told that this whole “I will meet him” decision, could be used by Kim, to roll Trump. Kim is going to go to his people, and the world, and say, “Look, I set off a few nukes and launch missiles and now the US president is meeting with me.” It would be a fascinating moment. The moment you realize that a seemingly innocuous decision could lead to roads unseen, roads rather dire. Dire and with millions of lives at stake, not to mention the cities they live in. Normal person’s reaction- “omg, Im way out of my league. what did I just do”, cue the anxiety and panic attack. Trump feels none of that. There is no remorse, no guilt, no reflection, nothing get past his defenses and actually impacts his ego. This decision was made to impress the people immediately around him, or to reaffirm himself. Every decision he makes is solely self-referential. Its not only a zero sum world to him, but its a zero sum world in which he is the US president. He wins and you lose. Just like Zaphod Breeblebrox he could survive the total perspective vortex (yes I had to google Zaphod, thought it was Zyphed, and I thought it was a machine not vortex). The insignificance of it all *sigh*
@Steve in the SFO:
A Presidential Historian. An Historian of the Presidency.
Also, I neglected to close my parentheses, but I don’t see you beating up on me about that.
/signed/ SiubhanDuinne actually and truly in the ATL
@Steve in the SFO: What happened to Steve in ATL.
I live for the day this changes.
I have a feeling that she would say, “Hell no!”. Melania via pre-nup is probably due multi-millions for letting him paw her one time.
Seattle may be the hipster douche capitol of the US but other than that I really liked it.
I thought that was Portland.
@Brachiator: Fighting us about Hillary and neoliberalism while mocking marches, wins & everything else that isn’t DEMS SUCK, JOIN THE DSA!
This would be a disaster. You might have Pacifica on the West Coast. But you would have to brutally put down rural and conservative interests in those states. And then there is the little matter of creating new standing armies and navies. I don’t know what would happen in every other part of the country, but the possibility of a New Confederacy in the South should scare the shit out of anyone.
In the UK, maybe Scotland would separate from Britain with little acrimony, but you might expect political instability as all the agreements between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland broke down (because, again, I see Theresa May as almost as dumb ass as Trump).
On a much happier note …
On the tenure, I wish you both CON and GRATS.
Re ranking/analysis of the Trump (mal)administration: It seems there are any number of ways to sort the 45 presidencies in our history (just counted on my fingers, and realized I have been alive through 14 of them, very nearly a third of all our presidents) and the current crew comes in at — not near, not close to, but AT — the very bottom of any list you care to assemble.
There are times when I’m not quite sure which one of them is the dumber one.
Steve in the AIR
@schrodingers_cat: he will reappear in a few hours!
smedley the uncertain
@hellslittlestangel: My fearless congressional rep was just on MSNBC saying just that. “it’s Trumps style’ and a little pain is necessary to MAGA……” Reed, NY 23
@SiubhanDuinne: Buchanan, Pierce, Coolidge, and Hoover should all send thank you notes to trump… (not to mention Bush II and Nixon)
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Andrew Jackson is the one I can think of as the closest to that,
Jesus Fucking Christ!
@TenguPhule: My God. Just reading the Yelp reviews for places to eat/visit in downtown Seattle wore me the fuck out. It’s like every cup of coffee, every plate of food, every server just needed that extra bit of a soupçon of something to perfect their experience. And if it wasn’t there they destroyed that place or service. I’m not sure “pretentious” is still a word on the West Coast but if it is, Seattle haz it.
@Brachiator: I see what you did there.
@Corner Stone: Hounding Hillary was near the top of despicable things done by the Republican Party, and given the number of despicable things they’ve done. that’s pretty impressive. Melania may have sold her soul for 30 pieces of silver, but I cringe at the thought of having to spend any time with that oaf, much less be in bed with him. If she had venal motives for legally hooking up with the Orange Shitgibbon she has abundant cause to repent, and I would be extremely unhappy with anyone here hounding her on top of everything else she has to go through..
Enhanced Voting Techniques
@Barbara: I think it’s simpler than; these are guys who think with only their dicks.
Melinia, while hot in a prefab kind of way, is visibly the property of Donald Dumbass, and what self respecting guy wants Trump’s sloppy seconds? Doubtless Dimwits would play as an act of generosity on his part and not Trump simply bores Melinia.
Hillary, when she was young, was hot to in a MILF kind of way and has an open marriage, which makes her available. Except clearly Hillary’s picky about who she bangs so all these rejected would be Vince Fosters are now in full butt hurt over being rejected. Thus all the articles calling Hillary “cold”, “lesbian” and “bitch”.
Nothing more pathetic and slimier than dude bro rejected.
@Tom: I’m not going to hound her. But I’m not going to feel any sympathy for her either. She embraced her husband’s racism willingly. And she’s been too cagey on her initial visas and the visas of her parents. She has her own flaws that need acknowledgment. But I’m not going to hound her over them.
@woodrowfan: That’s a big Joe Biden deal. Congratulations!
@Corner Stone: Seattle is a charmless provincial backwater with money and pretentions.
I’m going to take that as a straight sentence. Because I really have no fucks to give about Melania, one way or the other. She’s an adult. She knows what she did.
BUT, if getting a blow job led to YEARS, DECADES of scorn and demands from Hillary to go to sack and ash cloth then why is everyone giving sympathy to Melania after serial humiliations? As far as i can see, no one anywhere in the media has asked one FUCKING TIME why she hasn’t left Trump yet. That’s about a brazillion times less than they hounded HRC.
@Corner Stone: Yup. The reason she doesn’t leave is because of money. Trump would also release her immigration papers that showed she lied. Cowards should be ridiculed. just sayin
@schrodingers_cat: Generals should declare him an enemy combatant and send him to Gitmo.
@Mike in NC: If Kelly and McMaster go…doesn’t that pretty much just leave Trumpov in the bunker with Miller? Jesus, that’s creepier than ‘IT’…
Hey at least the prez who golfed the most is still Obama BY FAR LIBTARDZ!
At some point you have to start asking how much of Trump’s performance in office is incompetence/corruption on an unprecedented scale, and how much is deliberate sabotage.
Adam L Silverman
@Corner Stone: Melania isn’t a professional anything. She doesn’t have a bachelors degree, let alone a law degree. She didn’t have a career that is threatening to powerful men. And she hasn’t in any way, shape, or form provided any indication that she intends to do anything but the occasional photo op and tweet as required.
Adam L Silverman
@Mike in NC: That’s in the Sherman article I cited and quoted from above.
Adam L Silverman
@Adam L Silverman: One of my favorite lines is about Trump emaining fiercely loyal to the family, followed by but they have to go because they are making him look bad. (phrasing mine!)
It’s like we are on an out-of-control amusement park ride, only we are not amused. I’m kinda mad that we didn’t get anything from Mueller today. Ever hopeful.
A long time ago I read somewhere and took to heart some advice for dealing with a beauracracy or business when you want your voice heard and the entities would rather ignore you – “Go directly to the people who can say “Yes”.” Trump doesn’t want even a hint of someone telling him no.
There was another part to this if the person who could say “Yes”ignored you – Go to the Press. Trump has twitter
Trump is acting like a few guys, I have met, who run closely held family businesses.
There’s a certain inherited contempt for people not closing deals and bringing revenue into the business.
Selling is what the owners like to do, and therefore it is the greatest thing in the world because by virtue of running a business and the power of their egos they are the greatest most capable people in the world.
They have a lot of attributes similar to Trump, but none are as extreme.
Some are good guys, which is why I find the similarities to Trump disturbing.
@Adam L Silverman: That’s lovely.
Also, watching cable news tonight, the narrative seems to be Trump is the first US President to get diplomatic talks with North Korea going, and the first to get them to think about abandoning their nuclear program.
They seem to forget President Clinton’s getting them to stop their nuclear program in 1994, which Bush, Jr deliberately destroyed.
They will never stop trying to fluff Trump.
@woodrowfan: congrats! Is the “Woodrow” in your nym Woodrow Wilson?
I’m a fan of black comedy and The Godfather.
You couldn’t pay me to sit through a Corleone/Trump mash up.